US satellite company Dish calls on Amazon for 5G launch

Dish Network became the first telecommunications company in the world to choose to run its entire network from the public cloud after reaching a deal with Amazon to use its servers to control its new 5G network.

Dish, the satellite TV company run by billionaire Charlie Ergen, will launch its 5G network in Las Vegas in the third quarter. It will run on AWS in what will be a watershed moment for the telecommunications industry.

The Dish network will be a crucial test for an industry that has been reluctant to move critical network functions to the public cloud from dedicated data centers.

Ergen said the move to the public cloud and the use of smaller providers, known as ‘Open RAN’, are crucial for US and UK attempts to regain a foothold in the global telecommunications market following crackdowns on the use of Huawei equipment in markets such as the US and UK .

“This gives the United States a chance to regain a leadership position in telecoms. The best cloud providers in the world are in the United States. No one writes better software than the United States. And now, with Open RAN, we can use American providers for the radio, ”he told the Financial Times in an interview.

Dish is the fourth largest player in the US wireless market, but uses T-Mobile’s network capacity for 4G services. The company intends to spend between $ 8 billion and $ 10 billion building its own 5G network and has spent $ 25 billion on spectrum. Its licenses require the company to connect 20% of the U.S. population to this network by June of next year.

The Dish deal is an important victory for Amazon, which fought Microsoft and Google for the contract, according to Ergen. America’s big tech companies have targeted the telecoms industry Over the past two years, more and more telecom functions have moved to the cloud.

Andy Jassy, ​​who was promoted to chief executive of AWS to chief executive of Amazon this year, said he expected more telecom companies to follow Dish’s lead over the years. years to concentrate their “scarce resources” away from internal data centers and towards network expansion. and customer service.

“I think telecommunications operators increasingly want to move in this direction. They want the ability to not have to build everything and maintain everything themselves, ”he told the Financial Times. He said the current network architecture is “expensive and slower than they would like” as 5G approaches.

Amazon, like Microsoft, has long flirted with the telecoms industry. He has tried and failed to enter the mobile phone market and has been associated with launching his own brand of wireless in recent years.

Jassy said the company is looking to partner with the telecommunications industry through AWS instead, as 5G and advanced computing increases the need for processing power on a mobile network. “It will be something that a lot of other telecom companies will try to do in the years to come,” Jassy said.

There has been skepticism in the industry at large about using the public cloud for critical network functions. Dean Bubley, founder of Disruptive Analysis, said it was likely the broader telecommunications industry would move to the public cloud “in stages” because parts of a network could not be “cloudified”.

Ergen remained optimistic that the AWS deal would allow him to succeed as a challenger to well-established companies Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. “This isn’t our first rodeo,” he said of Dish’s big bet on using the public cloud.

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